A new report from the National Council on Teacher Quality criticizes four of the 12 Race to the Top winners for not delivering high-quality, ambitious teacher-evaluation plans, a key criteria to winning a share of the $4 billion grant competition last year.
The report praises 17 states and the District of Columbia—a list that includes all eight of the remaining Race to the Top winners—for adopting ambitious teacher-evaluation policies that include “objective evidence of student learning and mandate student achievement and/or student growth will ‘significantly’ inform or be the preponderant criterion” for evaluations.
However, four of the winners—Georgia, Hawaii, Massachusetts, and North Carolina—had problems, the NCTQ report says. Among those cited are:
• Georgia’s teacher-evaluation plan is limited to just 26 of the state’s 181 districts. (Georgia’s Race to the Top application did not promise a statewide evaluation program and included only those 26 districts.)
• North Carolina’s new standard that requires teachers to contribute to the academic success of students is too vague and doesn’t result in a performance rating for teachers.
• Massachusetts’ new regulations do not require student-performance measures to be a “significant” factor in teacher evaluations. The regulations also leave too much discretion and too many details to individual evaluators to choose student-achievement measures and make decisions about what constitutes satisfactory student growth.
• Hawaii drew the most criticism. “Unfortunately,” the report says, “there are also RTT winners, such as Hawaii, with little or no legislative or regulatory changes to show for its promises regarding great teachers and leaders.” It adds that Hawaii’s promise to redesign its system “hasn’t materialized in any significant way.”
Implementing the Race to the Top’s teacher-evaluation component, which carried the most points in the grant competition and resulted in some of the biggest promises, is one of the toughest challenges the states face. The report’s conclusions about Hawaii, Massachusetts, and North Carolina, as the states near the halfway point in their four-year Race to the Top grants, may put pressure on the U.S. Department of Education to hold the winners accountable.
A version of this article appeared in the November 02, 2011 edition of Education Week as Four Race to Top States Lag in Teacher Evaluations